A fresh start: South Africa’s war on HIV/AIDS

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South Africa’s approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been criticised at home and abroad. In 2000 for instance, South Africa’s president and health minister sparked outrage by openly questioning the link between HIV and AIDS.

So many scientists and activists have welcomed the country’s long-overdue initiative to revamp its HIV/AIDS programmes, a draft of which is released today (1 December) by the South African government to coincide with World AIDS Day.

But the five-year plan has seen its fair share of controversy, reports Robert Koenig in Science.

A major area of criticism has been targets for antiretroviral treatment. Earlier drafts contained goals that lobby groups claimed represented only 20 per cent of those needing treatment.

They persuaded the government to delay announcing specific targets until a compromise is reached, probably early next year.

And many see current health minister, Tshabalala-Msimang — famous for promoting nutrition and traditional medicine in HIV/AIDS treatment — as an obstacle to progress.

Link to full article/paper in Science

Reference: Science 314, 5804 (2006)